NFL Divisional Round Preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA -- For the first and quite possibly the final time in their illustrious careers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees will meet when the stakes are most high on Sunday.

The matchup roughly 20 years in the making will be the 8th installment between the ageless wonders, with Brees holding the 5-2 all-time advantage.

Since their first meeting in 2002, however, much has changed for the future hall-of-fame quarterbacks. Most notably, the once occasional opponents have now found themselves playing in completely different uniforms—renewing their rivalry within the NFC South.

In their first two meetings of 2020 that took place during Week 1 and Week 9, Brees and the Saints were able to overcome the high-powered Buccaneers offense on both occasions, sweeping the season series en route to claiming their 7th division title and the NFC’s #2 seed. It also marked the only time that a divisional rival won both games of the season series against Brady in his career.

As for the season’s 3rd installment, the two teams will square off once again in the NFC Divisional Round—one in which Brees suggested was simply “inevitable.”

Not only will it mark the quarterback’s 6th trip to the Divisional Round, but regardless of Sunday’s outcome, it will likely be his final game in the renowned Mercedes-Benz Superdome as a result of the NFC’s #1-seeded Green Bay Packers’ victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.

With Brees recently celebrating his 42nd birthday on Friday, this will become the oldest meeting between two starting quarterbacks in NFL history as well—a record previously set during their first meeting of the 2020 season.

Tampa Bay has been on a 5-game surge that carried through last week’s 31-23 Wild Card win over Washington—the franchise’s first playoff victory since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. Altogether, they’ve trounced their opponents by a combined score of 179-98 since Week 14. They’ll face a tough Saints defense that held them to a mere 3 points in Week 9.

Additionally, New Orleans will regain more critical pieces back from injuries for the 2nd-consecutive week in the form of WR Tre’Quan Smith and DE Trey Hendrickson, they’ll likely be without RB Latavious Murray and the versatility of Taysom Hill who each appeared on the injury report after staging limited in practices on Friday. The Buccaneers also announced rookie RB Ronald Jones III will be active for the game as well.

Needless to say, Sunday’s contest will certainly be remembered as one that defines an entire generation in NFL history.

PREDICTION: Saints, 34-28...Who Dat?